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Matt Willis pressured to divorce by Scientology? Our experts back him up.

Matt Willis is better known in the UK, where he was part of the pop band Busted and starred in a number of reality shows, and he’s married to another reality TV figure in England, Emma Willis, but the story Matt is telling about his brief foray into Scientology has reached our shores, and it’s a doozy.

He was only in Scientology for about three months, but the detail that the press has seized on is that he says he felt pressured to divorce Emma almost right away in order to make progress on the church’s Bridge to Total Freedom.

“They were like, ‘There’s someone in your life who’s actually draining you, who’s a negative force, and it’s normally the person closest to you’. And it’s like, I think they’re trying to split my fucking marriage up now,” he told The Sun.

And that’s when we knew Matt Willis was telling the absolute, unvarnished truth.


Time and again as we’ve covered Scientology, we have run across stories from its former members about being put under pressure to divorce. Scientology may call itself a “church,” but this heinous practice of pitting spouses against each other in order to leverage more loyalty to Scientology is shockingly common.

To help people understand how Willis’s story fits in that larger context, we asked some of our experts about their own experiences in Scientology. Were they under pressure to divorce a spouse, or did they see it happen to others? And how common was it?


Mike Rinder: Not to me personally. But even in the Sea Org this was routine. Spouses in different level orgs — at the top — were encouraged to divorce spouses in lower orgs. This was absolutely the case in RTC [the Religious Technology Center, the subsidiary nominally controlling Scientology] and I know for a fact it happened with Claire Headley being told to divorce Marc because he was in a lower org. And it was the case with many others in RTC. And generally, for those who were at Int Base and had spouses who did not “qualify” to be at Int, the answer was to get a divorce. Nobody was ever expected to stay married under those circumstances as they would eventually have to “abandon their post” to be with their spouse. In the Sea Org that is a High Crime.


Marie Bilheimer: Yes, I was encouraged to divorce my husband, Aaron, while we were in the Sea Org. The reason we were given was our difference in qualifications. He was disqualified for certain positions and I was “Int cleared.” A handful of people told me I could “do better.” My senior actually pulled me in to a private conversation with several ethics policies referenced to try to convince me to divorce him. Feeling like my commitment trumped my qualifications and the fact that I loved him, I refused. I know of a number of people, specifically in the Sea Org, who have been married three to four times because of the qualifications divorce issue. I was shamed for remaining married to Aaron and in the end they used that against me in his death, him being so out-ethics.


Claire Headley: Yes, divorce is extremely common. The driving factor is whether divorce benefits Scientology. It if does, then pressure is exerted to divorce. For public scientologists, it might be because a spouse is against Scientology, drifting away, or is opposed to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on services. In the Sea Org, and in my case, I was pressured to divorce Marc for years. The pressure was so heavy it got to the point that I wrote Marc a letter and sent him my rings back at one point, in an effort to get him to “get his act together” since it was at a time he was considered to be not performing as expected. While Marc never really forgave me for that, it was a solution for me at the time that was a brighter alternative to sending him divorce papers, which is what was expected of me at the time. I figured we’re even now, since he escaped without me!


Julian Wain: For Scientology, separating couples is their bread and butter. They would rather isolate an individual to be able to keep control over them, and they issue a thing called a separation order which forbids the two people from interacting. This was done to Katherine and myself, in an attempt to keep Katherine in the fold while they planned an attack to expel me from Scientology. I have seen this with several couples, and even know of a husband and wife (my friend’s parents) who got a divorce from the pressure from the cult. This same attack is used on friend vs friend, parent vs kids, in fact any time they can either get you to do more cult services or you get ostracized. While it isn’t always such an obvious push by them, they are constantly indoctrinating their members to only have relationships that are “pro-survival” i.e. pro-Scientology. You are subtly encouraged to keep friends or relationships that align with keeping you doing more Scientology, and to jettison anybody who has differing opinions, or isn’t active in the cult, or is in bad standing or is being an actual real human being (not a cult zombie who just follows along). I broke up with a long term girlfriend while on training because she “wasn’t a Scientologist enough.” This was not my idea, but for sure the brainwashing I had endured daily. Any time you are ill, not doing well, having feelings other than the “faux-phoria” induced from love bombing and certificates, you are labeled PTS and have to find somebody to remove from your life or you have to “fix them.” I would say most people just cut and run, unless they are family and even then it ends that way.



Phil Jones: In the early days in Scientology I had a fair bit of money so was the target of a lot of regging which resulted in my paying for lots of auditing and training. During that time I met Willie and we immediately hit it off. Over the next few months we got pretty serious. One day I was told by a Scientology executive that my relationship was a distraction for me getting up the Bridge and I needed to break up with Willie. I argued the point but they insisted, and since I was a young, impressionable (read gullible) teenager I agreed to do it. I went home that evening and told Willie that even though I didn’t want to that we had to split up. I then left to go stay somewhere else. After that I was a basket case. I couldn’t function without breaking down and after a while I missed her so much I went and got back with her. We went along together for only a short while before they broke us up again. It didn’t last and we got together again. Finally they put more pressure on and this time it came directly from the ED (Executive Director) himself. That was the final breakup and Willie ended up moving back out west to Winnipeg. I was again broken. I went along for months just caved and crying all the time. One day I finally ran out of money. Scientology then left me alone. I quit staff and moved out west to try to get back with Willie. She took me back immediately. We stayed out of Scientology for a number of years after that until, having moved back to near Toronto, we were coerced back into Scientology by my sister and older brother. Once we were back in Scientology Willie joined staff at the Toronto Org and that nearly broke us up again. This time they were influencing her to split with me. I remember one night it came to a head. They basically weren’t even letting her come home. I had her quit staff and that settled things out enough that we were fine after that. Scientology is not good for any kind of family relationship no matter what they tell you. It always boils down to what they consider is best for Scientology and often they consider family and marriage to be a distraction from what they want from those people in their fold.


Mary Kahn: They had my husband spy on me by going through my emails to see if he could find anything incriminating such as communications with SP’s, apostates, squirrels, or communications with disgruntled Scientologists, or with Marty Rathbun in particular at that time. My husband also agreed to let Ethics Officers (MAA’s) and OSA reps into my house without me knowing or agreeing to it. While I was out on a walk, my husband let these people were let into my house who then ambushed me upon my return and harangued me to come into the organization to get “handled.” This is something the church does really well; they get your loved ones (or close friends) to do things that are such a violation of that relationship that it does damage to it, sometimes irrevocable. It’s a wonder I didn’t divorce my husband on the spot. While I hated what he was doing, I knew his own head was spinning as to what the hell was going on and all he wanted to do was save his marriage and his son. Because the pressure was too horrible to bear for both of us, I got an apartment in my hometown and would go back and forth. My husband was in a state and didn’t know what to do to save his son (who the church had already gotten to disconnect from me) and his wife. He told church officials he was going to divorce me but strung them along for about two years when he was called into his MAA’s office and was asked definitively if he was going to divorce me. He said no; within the month he was declared a Suppressive Person. Our son then moved out of the house where he was raised a good part of his life and disconnected from his father immediately. The Church of Scientology destroys families without shame, guilt or remorse.


Neil Gaiman turns his creepy Scientology upbringing into a stage play

In 2013 we explained how Neil Gaiman’s short novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane was actually based on some real and strange things that happened while he was a kid living near Scientology’s Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, England.

In that article, we looked at how the odd death of a South African Scientology student who had been lodging at the family’s large house had haunted Gaiman ever since and became the basis for the book. And we offered in our close reading a theory that Gaiman was providing backup for his father David Gaiman’s assertion that the suicide was a result of gambling debts, not Scientology.

David Gaiman was at one time the most well known Scientologist in England, its spokesman there, and he was also named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Snow White spying operations that resulted in the imprisonment of 11 top Scientologists in the early 1980s.

Neil has generally been pretty quiet about growing up in Scientology, and the way the church used him as a prop at one point, so we were surprised that he took on this material if not head-on, then at least in an interesting, eerie fictional account.

And now, the book has been adapted for the stage and will be opening soon in London. We hope reviewers get a chance to look over the material we put together for that 2013 backgrounder on Neil and his Scientology past.




Source Code

“There is a civilization a few galaxies over here that, it’s got spaceships and backpacks and infantry zerp guns, and it’s got this, and it’s got certain types of motorcycles, and it’s got that, and so forth. Probably a lot of you are from there because every time it loses a battle they ship the people over here — the enemy does. They know how to get even. So anyway, this old civilization is just about the meanest area to try to put an idea into it you ever had. You see, they worked it out for years and eons and eons. Been going for billions and trillions and trillions of years with an uninterrupted flow, which is pretty unusual in civilizations anyhow, see, and is on a complete, perfect no-Change. And you say, ‘We got an idea for spaceships.’ Their spaceships aren’t all that good. They’re as good as spaceships can be, but you could undoubtedly make a better spaceship, you see. But they blow up on occasion and they do this on occasion, they do that on occasion. They mess up one way or the other. And yet to try to get any idea across to them fills the hierarchy of that particular activity with absolute horror. Because they’ve lived with and through all of the areas of innovation, and innovation to them is dangerous on a departure from the highly workable.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 16, 1964


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Division III where has the packaged soup come from? This is strictly against Flag Order. Where are such dishes as bean and ham soup, Irish stew, beef ragout, noodles and tuna, chicken and noodle soup, green pea soup and ham, chili con carne, fresh vegetable soup, baked beans and franks, shepherd’s pie, chicken and dumplings, lentil soup, potato soup, and chicken and rice soup. Midday meals are to be such as these — good and sustaining.” — MarySue Hubbard, Captain, April 16, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Leah said on TV that Scientology’s advanced levels are just deluded ‘space opera’ fairy tales. Are Leah and her handler Mike Rinder working for the Shadow USA government?”



Past is Prologue

1999: MSNBC reported on Scientologist John Coale‘s relationship with the U.S. President. “John Coale, the high-profile Washington lawyer who has been behind several big anti-tobacco cases, continues to solidify his White House ties. Coale, and his high-profile wife, CNN commentator Greta van Susteren, are high-level Scientologists. Some say Coale is taking on certain cases to get closer to Clinton in his anti-tobacco cases and to further Scientology’s various causes. ‘No one ever accused John Coale of being dumb,’ says a source who has dealt with him often as an adversary. ‘His and Greta’s ties with the Clintons certainly don’t hurt them.'”


Random Howdy

“I took two trazodone at least six hours ago and I woke up and it’s only an hour later. What the hell is going on? Did the Fifth Invader Force land?”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Discovery hearing on April 20, prelim set for May 18.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Pretrial conference set for Apr 29.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 30, Judge Kleifield granted Scientology’s motions to compel arbitration. June 7: Status conference.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.


SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Ex-con who says he’s returned L. Ron Hubbard has an indie Scientology revolt on his hands
[TWO years ago] Leah Remini: Where’s the outrage about Scientology’s disappeared?
[THREE years ago] Scientologists, gullible? Would they fall for a felon saying he’s the returned L. Ron Hubbard?
[FOUR years ago] She ‘graduated’ from Scientology’s drug rehab, which told her she was cured. Now she’s dead.
[FIVE years ago] More Atlanta video: David Miscavige cuts the ribbon on Scientology’s new real estate venture!
[SIX years ago] Scientology spy caught trying to interview Paul Haggis as fake ‘Time’ magazine reporter
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology takes aim at the latest move by the Garcias in their federal fraud suit
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Means Never Having to Tell an Ashtray You’re Sorry


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,273 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,777 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,297 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,317 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,208 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,515 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,383 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,157 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,487 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,961 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,277 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,843 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,762 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,930 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,511 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,772 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,810 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,523 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,048 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 403 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,578 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,129 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,278 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,598 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,453 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,572 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,928 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,231 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,337 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,739 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,611 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,194 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,689 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,943 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,052 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 16, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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